Measurement and modelling of perceived slant in surfaces represented by freely viewed line drawings

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Simple pictures under everyday viewing conditions evoke impressions of surfaces oriented in depth. These impressions have been studied by measuring the slants of perceived surfaces, with probes (rotating arrowheads) designed to respect the distinctive character of depicted scenes. Converging arguments indicated that the perceived orientation of the probes was near theoretical values. A series of experiments showed that subjects formed well-defined impressions of depicted surface orientation. The literature suggests that perceived objects might be flattened', but that was not the general rule. Instead, both mean slant and uncertainty fitted models in which slant estimates are derived in a relatively straightforward way from local relations in the picture. Simplifying pictures tended to make orientation estimates less certain, particularly away from the natural anchor points (vertical and horizontal). The shape of the object affected all aspects of the observed-object/percept relationship. Individual differences were large, and suggest that different individuals used different relationships as a basis for their estimates. Overall, data suggest that everyday picture perception is strongly selective and weakly integrative. In particular, depicted slant is estimated by finding a picture feature which will be strongly related to it if the object contains a particular regularity, not by additive integration of evidence from multiple directly and indirectly relevant sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-540
Number of pages36
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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